I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder 1 earlier this year, so I guess my journey has just begun, however my symptoms have been noticeable since I was young and I have been trying to get help for the past 10 years.
When I was fourteen I started seeing a mental health team after telling a GP I had bad nightmares and heard voices. I had just suffered from a sexual assault, my dad was diagnosed with MS and my grandmother who I was very close to died. I was subsequently diagnosed with depression and PTSD and was put onto antidepressants. I was put on Lovan for a year but it didn’t prove too effective and I suffered from bouts of depression and self harming throughout high school and college.
In my late teens my symptoms worsened. I started experiencing bad depersonalization and would enter dissociative states where I would become completely unresponsive to the outside world. I became increasingly depressed which resulted in a suicide attempt. I was taken to hospital overnight for observation but was then released. I started seeing a psychiatrist who treated me for depression and tried various antidepressants including Effexor and Mirtazapine, all of which gave me bad side effects.
I ended up dropping out of university and working as a stripper for a while. I really enjoyed the lifestyle as I could never sleep anyway and I made good money drinking and partying and made some awesome friends. Eventually the lifestyle began to catch up with me.. I started becoming paranoid I was eventually going to end up dead so I decided to quit my job and I used getting pregnant as my motivation.
My partner is 18 years older than me and I thought it would take a while but I ended up getting pregnant straight away. Me and him have a very stable relationship despite my craziness sometimes. He truly is amazing and soon after I met him I had stopped my anti depressants and was fairly stable.
After falling pregnant I started getting bad symptoms again. My muscle twitches came back, I couldn’t sleep, I heard voices and had visual hallucinations and I started getting dissociation again. Despite all of these symptoms I didn’t have the depression I usually got with it that was supposedly the ’cause’.
I went to see a psychiatrist because I knew I was suffering from something other than depression, but the psych assumed I was just a drug addict. I suffered from hyperemesis for my entire pregnancy, which meant I was constantly vomiting morning, noon and night, this coupled with my other symptoms is what made her judge me I believe. My other downfall was I was honest about previous recreational marijuana use. I tried to explain to her I hadn’t had it for ages and all of my symptoms started before I even tried it (not to mention the fact there is absolutely no evidence to suggest you can get withdrawl symptoms at all, particularly with the small amount I had and how severe my symptoms were). But she didn’t listen.
I actually complained to my counselor about her so the next time I saw her my counselors supervisor came with me. The psych still made me cry, told me I was fine and that I probably won’t get postnatal depression because I should be better able to cope as I have been depressed in the past (even though I wasn’t even concerned about depression at the time).
I felt worthless. I just wanted help finding out what was wrong so I could sort it out as I had a baby on the way, but she made me feel like I was just making it all up and it was all my fault.
I gave up trying to get help after seeing her. I have never had someone treat me with such disrespect. I stopped seeing my counselor (who was amazing) and I tried to deal with it on my own.
I spent my whole pregnancy secluded at home sick as a dog and paranoid of seeing anyone.
After the birth I felt fantastic! I was still sick and in a lot of pain but I was on top of the world regardless. On the way home from the hospital I stopped at the mall and did all the shopping, then I completely cleaned the house from top to bottom. I was so energetic yet I was only sleeping one or two hours a night, and not because of the baby, he actually slept awesomely. After a while I started losing it. I got very irritable and sensitive and I was racing at a million miles an hour all the time. After I freaked out after a fight with my partner (we had never fought before I had the baby) I punched a wall and broke my hand. That was the point I knew I needed help. In retrospect I should have gotten help earlier, but my experience during the pregnancy made me paranoid of seeing mental health professionals. And after all, she said I was fine.
I saw my counselor again and she told me I should see a psychiatrist immediately and the best way to do that was to go to the hospital. So I waited for hours in emergency only for a doctor to tell me I’m fine and to go home. The next day I freaked out again and called the emergency mental health team. They told me to go back to the hospital and talk to a psychiatrist so again off I went. They were very apologetic and said I should have been seen the night before by and actual psych but they were short staffed. So there I was.. Waiting.. Waiting.. After hours waiting for the psych to come after being told he was on his way I decided to leave because I wanted to see my son. They had me waiting in the mental health ward and when I went to leave they said ‘You aren’t going anywhere. We have the power to hold you as an involuntary patient’. Obviously I proceeded to freak out. I had gone in there on my own accord, my mother was even accompanying me, and they lured me in and admitted me without even telling us and now they wouldn’t let me go home and see my three week old baby. I was distraught. Eventually the psychiatrist came, talked to me and said I had to stay there for an indeterminate amount of time.
My partner came down to the hospital and lost it at the staff to let me out as he has been caring for me full time and I was doing well at home, I just needed diagnostic help and medication. Luckily a different psychiatrist was walking past and over heard so gave us a second opinion and let me go if I agreed to be sedated. So I begrudgingly took the tablet she gave me, passed out and my partner took me home.
I was given Zyprexa to try and within a couple of weeks my manic symptoms were much better as I was getting a lot more sleep. Then I hit a wall. The depression came on and I felt terrible. I felt like the life had been sucked out of me, I was tired all the time and I felt so ashamed for what had happened the months prior. I stopped taking my Zyprexa because it made me even drowsier and I couldn’t stand it any longer.
I started seeing a psych that I saw a couple years prior, but I didn’t click with him at all. He still couldn’t explain what happened to me and just seemed to brush it off. My counselor then suggested someone and she was amazing! I can’t stress how important it is to keep looking for a doctor until you find one you really like. She looked at my entire history, asked about my family, didn’t judge me for my past mistakes and reassured me that everything wasn’t my fault. She diagnosed me with Bipolar 1 and suggested I start taking Lithium to help balance my moods but I am still deciding whether I want to yet or not, I’m still nervous about side effects.
I’m currently feeling pretty good. I’ve been hypomanic for the last couple weeks but I can control myself alright as long as I make sure to get enough sleep and nothing sets me off (which is actually a bit difficult at the moment with a teething baby).
And that’s essentially where I’m up to! I feel like I could have written ten blog posts about this but I didn’t want to blather on too long. I’m sure I will expand on some of my experiences in future blog posts.
Thank you all for reading! I hope you are having a fantastic day!